In the wake of the daily headlines, do sports and recreation even matter anymore?
- What does it matter that I teach kids to dribble, pass, and shoot?
- What does it matter that they learn to play the positions?
- What does it matter that I set a line up with starters and subs?
- play a system, run fitness, have team meetings, sign up for tournaments …
Why, when there is so much gone wrong with the world?
I see coaching friends disheartened by the events of these days. These are people who, day in and day out, go to the mat for the kids. Some don’t even have kids of their own, or any on their teams, but still invest huge hours in helping young people make the most of their sport. They’re asking, what difference is my coaching going to make for kids in today’s world?
Don’t lose heart. What you’re doing is just what they need. Because of you they…
- Are built up, so they won’t break down.
- Are getting better and building confidence.
- Develop unity, loyalty, camaraderie, and respect.
- Team up even with those of a different race, creed, color, culture or caliber.
- Know that healthy feels like fun!
- Learn respect for their own body and to respect all human bodies.
- Learn perseverance. When things get tough, they get tougher.
- Agree to play by the rules and endure consequences for breaking those rules.
- Learn to compete without excuse.
- Find ways to manage difficult emotions, difficult people, and difficult times
Jim Thompson, founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, writes,
“I agree with Thomas Boswell that sport has become “the meeting ground where we discuss our values” in this extremely diverse (and, it seems, increasingly destructive) society.” (parenthesis mine)
Sport is a way to have a conversation even when we don’t speak the same language. In fact, it may be the only place, in these days, that cultures can clash, and arguments can be heard. Sport is way more than health and leisure time. It is beyond recreation. It is our ticket to Re-Creation.
By leading in sport we are not just developing athletes, we are raising a generation to be healthy, capable and contributing citizens in this world. Sport, shared globally, lets them see different approaches to the way the world works.They can meet people who believe differently, govern differently and have different ideas about gender, class, race and religion. Our children will be free, then, to adapt, adopt or keep their own ways and traditions.
This doesn’t just happen on its own when we send kids out to play in the backyard. It comes from great sport leaders who mentor and moderate kids as they play for, play against, and play their hearts out in competition. There kids earn respect for themselves and gain respect for their opponents. From this foundation trust can grow, cooperation can begin and friendship becomes possible.
Even when all else fails, sport raises us up. Our children at play may be our world’s best hope. Coaches, don’t lose heart. What you’re doing is what all the world needs.
We must let our children play and teach them to play well.
I know you will also enjoy Sally Jenkins’, Amid the Specter of Terrorism Our Games are More Vital Than Ever.